Mental Illness and Insurance

The U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSHA) just released  its annual report (these things take a while, apparently, given its date), entitled, “Results from the 2011 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: Mental Health Findings.” There’s a lot–and I do mean a lot–worth reading there, but I found something astounding.
Although it required me to do some adding, and I generally try to worm out of arithmetic if at all possible, I found the statistics on insurance fairly heartening.  The report found that the percent of adults (that means 18 or older, whether we agree with that or not) with either Medicaid or a program known as Children’s Health Insurance  Program (CHIP) who had what they term AMI, or any mental illness, in the past year was 32.4%. (Now, I really get touchy when decimals are involved . The percent of those with private health insurance was 16.3%, those with other forms of health insurance was 17.3%–and 25.3% were completely uninsured [now, to me, from what I remember in the old days, that should have added up to a hundred, you should have been able to put it over 100, then reduce it, and then do something else that really mattered–but I can’t remember what]).
The point is this: Americans cannot afford the cost of their mental health treatment–even if they have insurance.  Look closely at the graph below [and be duly impressed that I ever got it into this post–it took a goodly amount of time and effort]:
Okay–so you’ve had time to look (and be impressed), and I’m sure you noticed that 8.5% of those polled had health insurance that did not cover enough treatment--while 6.7% had–appallingly–health insurance that covered no treatment.
Let’s return to the slightly less desperate category: those who have insurance but are finding it’s just not covering what they need.  We just might have some ideas for that situation.
Out of the blue this past month we heard from a man, Eric Butler,  who offered to discuss matters “related to insurance and personal finance.” These are so out of my league that I actually laughed, but when he clarified, I actually became quite engaged. Eric explains his post as “a guide . . .that looks at some commonly misunderstood mental health conditions and how they fit in with current health insurance”–and really it’s even more helpful that he makes it sound.
In his piece, Mental Health and Insurance: Commonly Misunderstood Illnesses,”  he gives practical suggestions on how you can deal with your insurance company to get more and better treatment for a variety of illness, ranging from ADHD and autism to eating disorders.
I very much encourage you to spend some time there.  And I do thank Eric–both for drawing my attention to the matter, and for suggesting ways of getting the help you need.


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